While no one expects you to become an SEO expert, if you arm yourself with a little education you’ll be able to speak with your web developer, designer and writer much easier. In turn, they’ll be better able to serve you. It’s kind of like knowing the right questions to ask the contractor when he’s redoing your kitchen. You’ll protect yourself from nasty surprises.
1. Content — Your content matters. How it’s written, what it says to your prospects and what keyword terms it uses. I don’t just say this as a web writer. Google suggests you have a minimum of 300 words per page. AND, they need to be the “right” words.
Before I write a single word of copy, I ask my clients a series of marketing questions and then dive into keyword research to develop a keyword plan.
This keyword plan guides the content. After all, it’s easier for your prospects to find you if you use the same words they do. Software programs combined with the SEO writer’s background (knowledge) will provide the framework.
2. Header 1 Tags (or H1)— This is a technical term for the headline at the top of your webpages. A good headline is benefit focused – meaning it focuses on your visitor. What’s in it for them? It will also include the keyword term you’ve established for that page. This can be a tricky balance but is worth the time and energy.
Oh, BTW, don’t use a word like “welcome” at the top of your home page. That will never get your website found, nor bring you clients. This is valuable real estate. Treat it as such by using your keyword term for that page and focusing on benefits for your prospects.
3. Meta-data – This is one of those “behind the scenes” elements that often confuse people. You’ll need a meta-title and description for each of your web pages. They need to include the keyword term identified for that page. You get around 8 words for the title and 160 for the description. Want to know more about meta-data? Read this.
4. Design – Yes, design is important. However, it’s not the MOST important thing. Plenty of “ugly” websites make their owners millions. Focus on ease of use and a “clean” look. Don’t spend all your time debating colors and fonts. Go with best practices and keep it simple. And, skip the Flash (it’s not mobile friendly).
5. Loading Time – Tons of graphics and outdated technology like Flash will slow your site down. How often have you abandoned a site because it wouldn’t load quickly? Don’t be that site owner.
6. Responsive Design – This is a fancy way of saying your site will look good on Smartphones and tablets. People are on the go. They’re going to look at your site on mobile devices. Make sure it shows up like it’s supposed to.
7. Social Media – Your Facebook “likes”, shares etc. do matter. Considered “Social Proof” by search engines, if you’re not active in social, you’re missing a HUGE piece of the puzzle. If you haven’t already, develop a solid social media strategy like determining where your audience is – i.e., Facebook may not be the best place for you—and show up there consistently.
8. Bounce Rate – How long do people stay on your website? If your visitors land there and leave quickly (“bounce”), you’re not meeting their needs in some way. What might it be? Does the content need rewriting? Is the website hard to navigate?
9. Internal Links—Do you link your webpages to one another? This helps Google keep your site “together” by letting it know they’re related. This is a simple fix so don’t overlook it.
10. External Links—A huge component of good SEO is external links. When I start working with a new client, I run their site through a program that shows me their “backlinks”. These are the links coming into the site from other sources. Quality links matter. For example, a link from the Huffington Post gives you more credibility than a link from Joe’s Flooring.
Social media helps you develop backlinks. Every time you link to your site from Twitter, LinkedIn, etc., you gain another link. When people share your content, you get another nod of approval from Then, you can track them in your Google Analytics.
There are around 200 SEO elements that search engines look for, some of them are quite technical. However, if you pay attention to these 10, chances are you’ll be far ahead of where you are now.
What about you? Do you find any surprises in your website?